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Regional Drivers Qualify for Opening Night in East Bay; Reutzel Collects Win




Tampa, FL - The opening night of the King of the 360s was moved up by one night from the original schedule due to inclement weather scheduled for the greater Bay area on Saturday. Rather than a practice day on Wednesday, the first event of the three day weekend was held with over five dozen drivers on the grounds looking to make the 24 car field.


Regional drivers Mike Keegan (Fremont, OH), Chase Ridenour (Perry, MI), Phil Gressman (Fremont, OH), Jason Blonde (Litchfield, MI), Keith Sheffer, Jr (Jerome, MI), Ryan Ruhl (Coldwater, MI), Danny Sams III (North Port, FL/GLSS Regular), Max Stambaugh (Lima, OH), and Frank Neil (Vickery, OH) were on the grounds looking to make a run toward qualifying for Saturday's big dance. A handful of drivers were able to make the Wednesday night feature, however, others struggled in the opening night.


Frank Neil was the Great Lakes Region representative in Heat Race #1, rolling off in the 8th spot. After 8 laps, the No.88N came home 10th. Heat Race #2 featured Sheffer, Jr who was collected in a crash on the opening lap in the first turn, ending his night. In fact, the damage suffered was severe enough that the team pulled the 360 engine and placed it in their 410 primary chassis. Heat Race #3 featured a multitude of area drivers, however, none were able to accumulate enough passing points to transfer directly into the show.


Ruhl fell back a spot from 6th finishing 7th, Ridenour advanced two spots going from 8th to 6th and Stambaugh went from 5th to 4th before the end of the race. Jason Blonde started 4th in Heat Race #4 and battled for spots in fourth and third, but ultimately came across the line 5th. Keegan struggled in Heat Race #5 falling from his 4th starting spot back to 7th.


Heat Race #6 featured the first advancement directly to the feature for Sams III and Gressman. Gressman advanced by virtue of not losing any spots, starting 2nd and finishing 2nd. Meanwhile, Sams III moved up four spots, one of the biggest movers of the entire night coming from 8th and finishing 4th.


B-Mains didn't go according to plan for many drivers once again. Neill fell from 6th to 9th in B-Main #1. Mike Keegan came two spots short of a transfer going from 8th to 4th, while Blonde fell from 4th to 5th and Ruhl from 7th to 10th in B-Main #2. Stambaugh had the best run in the B-Mains getting the best of Parker Price-Miller in B-Main #3 picking up the win and the transfer. The final B-Main saw Ridenour fall from 3rd to 4th but a former Great Lakes Super Sprints competitor, Ryan Turner did transfer into the show.


In the A-Main, Aaron Reutzel put the moves on the field in between caution flags. Reutzel came from his 8th starting spot to power his way to a win. Other drivers were on the move as well with Terry McCarl up eight spots from 12th to 4th, Justin Peck from 17th to 5th, Sam Hafertepe, Jr up nine spots from 21st to 12th. Sams III fell from 10th to 11th, Stambaugh held steady in 19th while Gressman fell from 16th to 20th.


The King of the 360s continues tonight from East Bay Raceway Park for another $1,000 to win affair. Hot Laps begin at 6:30 PM ET with racing at 7:00 PM ET.


Story - Zach Hiser

Photo - East Bay Raceway Park

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